Skip to main content

Trade diplomat: Boatbuilders need a ‘Plan B’

Experts say the industry should look to additional international markets, like Croatia, where the NMMA is hosting a fact-finding mission this fall.

Experts say the industry should look to additional international markets, like Croatia, where the NMMA is hosting a fact-finding mission this fall.

With the United States is engaged in a trade war, boatbuilders should develop supply-chain strategies and new markets to offset the impact, according to a former diplomat with the International Trade Administration.

“Boatbuilders need to look at their entire supply chain and start putting together a Plan B,” Rebecca Torres, who recently retired from the ITA as a diplomat with the Foreign Commercial Service, told Trade Only Today. “If this lasts much time, they have to look at sourcing from other countries and selling to other countries.

“I don’t think anyone can wait,” Torres said. “I think they need to put a lot of effort in other markets. It’s like a portfolio; you always want to keep things diversified so if one lags, you have another to fall back on. I’d be putting in some extra hours right now. Maybe it will only last a few months. Maybe it will go on for a year plus, but don’t think we have the luxury, particularly the smaller builders, of waiting around and keeping our fingers crossed.”

Working with companies in the private sector on exports, Torres tried to maintain 20 to 30 percent in sales from outside the country.

“Builders have to have a contingency plan and decide at what point is the pain too much or bottom line eroding too much,” she said. “Depending on how this whole trade war escalates, it could throw us into a recession, and if that’s the case, we really need to rely on some of those international sales.”

Marine manufacturers should develop a diverse portfolio of international markets as a way to mitigate hiccups when they arise, said Julie Balzano, senior director of export development for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

“Tapping into emerging and second-tier markets has proved to be successful, which is why the NMMA is spearheading this effort with a fact-finding mission to Croatia this October,” Balzano told Trade Only. (Manufacturers can register here.)

“Croatia is on the cusp of becoming an important boating market and gateway for the southeast European region,” Balzano said. “NMMA designed this trip to help our members identify emerging market trends and establish key business relationships in Croatia as their status as an export market grows.”

Balzano added that the NMMA is “compiling a larger list of new markets to pursue in light of the newly imposed tariffs.”

The NMMA will host a webinar July 25 to discuss the tariffs, which have increased the costs of raw materials and components, and retaliation from our trading partners. Register here.



Passagemaker Relaunches Podcast

Trawler Talk aims to connect with those who are interested in the cruising lifestyle, with episodes dropping every other week


Aquila Celebrates 10 Years

The builder said it has sold more than 500 power cats and is the No. 1 brand in that segment.


Commerce Department Appoints Fishery Council Members

The Center for Sportfishing Policy said the new members are favorable to the recreation sector


Doing Good for a Good Night’s Sleep

The Massachusetts Marine Trades Association partnered with “A Bed for Every Child” to build beds for families in need.


RBFF Adds Six Board Members

The foundation said the board members add a breadth of experience from the fishing and boating industries as well as state government agency work.


DEALERS: How Was Business in the First Half of 2022?

Did the first six months of the year meet your expectations, and did you make budget? Take the Pulse Report survey here.


AkzoNobel Names New CEO

The company said Gregoire Poux-Guillaume’s experience as CEO of two other companies includes a track record of growth and teambuilding.